Councillors growing weary over facing same questions about garbage

Several county councillors here have indicated they are tired of facing the same types of questions about service levels for waste in Wellington County.

The issue arose during the solid waste services committee report when councillor Lou Maieron complained that the com­mittee had left him to figure out transfer station costs on its own. He had written to county engineer Gord Ough, explaining that when he held a citizens’ meeting in Erin in December, people asked about garbage costs.

He was able to provide figures on collection costs, but, “I was not in a position to ans­wer resident questions regard­ing the true operating costs of trans­fer stations, in particular Hillsburgh and Belwood.”

He requested a breakdown of all costs associated with the operation of transfer stations.

The solid waste services com­mittee, though, received his request for information as part of its recommendation to council, and added, “That coun­­cillor Maie­ron be inform­ed that he should look to the previous consultant reports which were commis­sioned for the same purpose as he says that he is now requesting information by way of his Jan. 19 email, noting that the re­ports are available in the solid waste services office if he does not have copies.”

Maieron argued county coun­cil cannot make decisions about collection or transfer stations without it, and it is “information all councillors should know.”

Committee chairman Bob Wilson disagreed. He said a study was commissioned when Maieron was chairman of solid waste services, it cost over $100,000, and, “It was never implemented.”

Wilson said the fact is the county has “put this issue to bed” about garbage pick-up or transfer stations. The feeling is there should be a differential be­tween urban and rural peo­ple. I see that as continuing.”

He added that finding the difference between transfer sta­tions and urban pick-up will be onerous and, “I don’t think we want to charge staff with driv­ing through that infor­ma­tion.”

Councillor Chris White sup­ported Wilson, and said the costs are available in the report Wilson referred to.

“So, it’s already been done,” White said.

Councillor Lynda White asked which study was being referred to.

Ough replied that it had been done in 2005, and it was a review of the county’s work by independent experts to look at the county’s waste manager reports from 2001 and 2002.

“They concluded the county approach was more cost ef­fective,” Ough said of that independent study.

Ough noted that last fall the county had agreed to drop a rural collection pilot project in Minto, continue pick-up for now in Guelph-Eramosa Town­ship, and, “The committee thought those questions [about comparison costs] were behind us.”

Maieron argued trans­fer stations “have their own set of costs” and council needs to com­pare the two services. He said with complete collection there might be no need for transfer stations.

But Wilson, defending the committee decision, disagreed.

“The county has clearly decided,” he said. “People want what we’re doing and we’ve got what we’ve got. That’s one reason why the status quo was chosen, and we’re not choosing one [service] over the other.”

Councillor Lynda White said, “We decided this back in Octo­ber. Why do we keep go­ing back? To me, you’re beat­ing a dead horse. This is crazy. Every council meeting we’re talking about that [issue],”

Councillor Mike Broom­head then asked about the pro­cedural bylaw. Warden Joanne Ross-Zuj said Maieron had spoken to the issue more than once.

Broomhead asked about the future of the Elora and Rothsay transfer stations.

Wilson said there could be a plan to improve them in the future.

Councillor Walter Trachsel said he is concerned valu­able staff time is being taken up by written requests for informa­tion. Trachsel, the chairman of the planning committee, said he has noticed staff time has been used answer a number of questions.

Council then approved the committee’s report.